Fun with 3D Printing

When we were in Chicago, I took Tomas and DC to a special 3D Printing session, where you got the basics of how to design something in 3D and then made a thing of your own and printed it. It was a lot of fun, and we all had a good time. Tomas really liked it, and he’s taken time since then to teach himself how to use Blender. He started by following some tutorials on YouTube, and he’s branched out into animation now, as well.

For his art project, he decided he’d like to create a lightsaber in Blender and then 3D print it. We have a 3D printer at the university, and we’ve been looking into potentially having one at the library, so this seemed like an excellent opportunity to test one out. It’s one thing to go to a demo on 3D printing. How hard would it be when there wasn’t someone there holding my hand?

Pretty darn easy, it turns out.

I don’t know how people did things before the internet. I mean, I know (having lived pre-internet), but I’m continually reminded how the internet has changed our lives. When I go driving to a new place, I never worry about getting lost or remembering directions. I’ve got Google Maps on my phone to keep track of all of that for me. And when I have a 3D printer I’ve never used before, there are tons of guides online for how to do just about anything with it. And when I wonder what I can print, there’s websites like Thingiverse with a slew of models, all read and waiting.

We printed Tomas’s lightsaber. It went off without a hitch. We’ve printed other things we found on Thingiverse. Models and puzzle boxes. There’s something really strange and exhilarating to see an item online, want it, and be able to print it out as soon as you’d like. I try to remember what life was like when I was 14. Early 90s. That was in the early days of AOL. Dial up modems. Seeing a single picture online took a long time. Compare that with today, and it makes me wonder what things will look like when Tomas is around 40.

Crazy.

In any case, I now have some experience with a Flashforge Finder. By no means a high-end printer, but definitely enough to learn the ropes and take one out for a test spin. Would I want to own one? Not yet, I don’t think. There are a lot of cool things to print out, but I haven’t seen so many that makes me think I’d want to keep churning them out all the time. Especially not if there were a printer in the area where I knew I could go to print something when I wanted to. (Which, obviously, there is.)

If I wanted to design models and test them out, or prototype things, however? This would definitely be appealing. And it’s only going to get more refined from here.

Exciting times indeed.

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